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Water and Light Commission hears water update

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WORTHINGTON — Scott Hain knocked on the wooden table sitting in front of him.

“Fortunately, the breaks and freeze ups have taken a little hiatus,” said Hain, General Manager of Worthington Public Utilities, as he presented to the Water and Light Commission Monday afternoon. “The water department boys had a whole weekend off this past weekend, which was well deserved. I won’t say they all slept very good, I’m sure they all laid there wondering when the phone was going to ring.”

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At the last meeting, Hain reported the city had seen a fair amount of breaks.

However, Monday, he said those had stopped.

“Hopefully it’s not the calm before the storm,” Hain said. “But that remains to be seen.”

And while the water is still flowing under the city, the Bella Well Field has not seen the same action.

“Well 26, as of last Friday, is 8 feet below the 16-year average,” Hain said. “That would put us at 4 feet, 10 inches above that 70 percent of the average.”

He said it’s 2 feet, 2 inches better than the levels were a year ago, so the situation is better than last year.

“If we go back a couple years before that, that’s 4 feet lower than what we were at the same time in 2012,” Hain said. “That was kind of the first spring of the drought.”

Compared to the end of February in 2011, the current levels are 13 feet, 6 inches lower.

Even with the snow currently hanging around, that won’t necessarily mean the well levels will increase.

“It depends on when it melts, how it melts, if the frost goes out first,” Hain said.

He explained that a year ago, one of the biggest recharges was on March 9, even though the ground was still frozen.

“It wasn’t such a bad deal for us, but it probably didn’t help farmers much because none of it soaked in, but it sure poured into Lake Bella,” Hain said. “I think Lake Bella came up over 2 feet in that one event.”

The city is currently receiving water from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water. Hain said LPRW can continue to provide water, and there is a possibility to increase the supply into the city.

Hain also gave an update on the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. He said he is meeting with local officials to discuss the bonding request to the state of Minnesota.

Commissioner Jim Elsing asked about the possibility of using some of the surplus money to fund the project. The total cost for the project in Minnesota is a little less than $70 million.

“I did the quick math and $70 million isn’t a big percentage of $1.2 billion,” Hain said.

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.

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